Derivazioni: Space for communication by TANAKA Sigeto
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This blog includes Tanaka Sigeto's daily updates and offers a space for discussion on sociological research and university education. Contents are in Japanese or English. Comments and trackbacks are welcome for each article. You can send a message to me as a comment to this entry (Check the "Secret" box below the comment form, if you want to make the message confidential). Otherwise, see the article "Activities elsewhere" for various ways to contact me.

It also carries announcement about Tanaka's classes. Follow the articles classified in the "School" category to see the announcements.

(2011-09-02 released.)

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「ウィメンズヘルスリテラシー協会」は、女性の健康についてのリテラシー向上を掲げて2017年7月に発足した一般社団法人です。9月28日に「ウィメンズヘルスリテラシーサミット」なるものを開くという告知が流れてきていますが、団体のウェブサイト等には、関係者や活動内容についての情報がほとんどありません。BuzzFeed がこの団体をとりあげた記事などを元に、この団体の正体を探りました。

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Hijacking the Policy-Making Process: Political Effects of the International Fertility Decision-Making Study for 2010s Japan (XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, July 2018, Toronto) (manuscript)

Title: Hijacking the policy-making process: political effects of the International Fertility Decision-Making Study for 2010s Japan

Author: Tanaka Sigeto (Tohoku University)


Results of international comparison tend to stimulate the national feeling of inferiority or superiority. Comparative studies thus often serve as a political device. Owing to the diffusion of the Internet and developments in the translation technology, large-scale cross-national surveys became a low-cost option to manipulate public opinion today.

In this paper, I introduce the case of the political use of the results from International Fertility Decision-Making Study (IFDMS) in Japan. IFDMS was conducted in 2009-2010 by a research group of Cardiff University and Merck Serono, a global pharmaceutical company. IFDMS used a questionnaire in 13 languages targeted at men and women trying to conceive in more than 18 countries. It featured questions regarding medical knowledge about pregnancy. According to the published result, the respondents who live in Japan exhibit a lower level of such knowledge than those in the other countries. Based on this result, medical authorities insisted that, because of the lacking of knowledge about pregnancy, Japanese people had thoughtlessly postponed childbirth and resulted fertility decline. The government accordingly made a new administration outline of population policy in 2015, which referred the results from IFDMS to advocate sex education for youth to encourage early marriage.

The case of the political effect of IFDMS teach us that abusive use of comparative study can easily be justified outside of social sciences, nullifying our efforts to accurately know about the society in which we live. IFDMS had, in fact, many defects including mistranslations in the questionnaire. It is therefore unreliable. However, results from IFDMS were accepted as reliable scientific findings in conferences and journals in the field of natural sciences in Europe, bypassing scrutiny by social science researchers in the targeted countries. Language differences also prevented the accurate understandings of the research results. (See for details.)

Keywords: cross-national survey, translation, science communication

Conference: XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology (July 2018, Toronto)
Session Selection: Current Research in Comparative Sociology, Part 1 (RC20: Comparative Sociology)
Status: Before the abstract submission

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Fake Information for the 'Egg Aging' Propaganda: The Role of Experts and Journalists in Its Emergence, Authorization, and Radicalization (XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, July 2018, Toronto) (manuscript)

Title: Fake information for the 'egg aging' propaganda: the role of experts and journalists in its emergence, authorization, and radicalization

Author: Tanaka Sigeto (Tohoku University)


The belief that women rapidly lose their fertility as they age has been popularized using biological findings about "aging" of eggs (or oocytes) in the ovaries. Recently, Japan has experienced national propaganda based on such a belief. In the past decade, doctors and medical organizations have broadcasted information about age-related fertility decline for women in their 20s and 30s. Their theory has spread on mass media without any scrutiny, creating a social pressure on women to bear children as early as possible. Such information has also served as evidence for the government's pronatalist policy of getting young people married.

This paper traces the history of the belief and explores how it emerged, progressed, and spread as authorized "scientific" knowledge by focusing on the graphs frequently used to support the "egg aging" discourse.

A literature survey revealed the following facts that exemplify the role of traditional experts and journalists in creating the "post-fact" phenomena. The graphs, seemingly quoted from the scientific literature, were actually fabricated, falsified, trimmed, or misinterpreted. Doctors manipulated graphs, supported it with unreachable citations, and provided insufficient or distorted explanations about the data and methods. These techniques are being used in the field of obstetrics and gynecology since the 1980s. Journalists have recently contributed to the propaganda, using sensational language to polish the message. During the development and radicalization of the discourse, no social mechanism was performing the fact-checking function. The "egg aging" propaganda, endorsed by medical authorities, aroused people's feeling about the alarming prospect of the country's low birthrate and shrinking population. It eventually achieved hegemony in public debates in 2010s Japan. (See for details.)

Keywords: pseudoscience, medicine, gender, reproductive rights, fertility

Conference: XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology (July 2018, Toronto)
Session Selection: Scientific Knowledge and Expertise in a 'Post-Fact' Era (RC23: Sociology of Science and Technology)
Status: Before the abstract submission

Created: 2017-09-20.
Revised: 2017-09-23.

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レポート返却 (9月7日 11:00-13:00)



日時: 9月7日 (木) 11:00-13:00
場所: 文・法合同研究棟2F 田中研究室 (206号室) →

この日時に来られない場合は、田中まで 直接連絡 してください。

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